April 16, 2019
Collaborative effort to bolster mental health, social services targeting children at risk for depression

ARLINGTON, Texas — Some of Collin County’s most vulnerable residents are young people who experience higher rates of depression and for some, their behavioral health outcomes are further impacted by homelessness, lack of transportation and food insecurity.

In a new initiative called Texas Health Community Impact, Texas Health Resources announced today that it has awarded PlanoUP! of Collin County $450,000 to address behavioral health and social determinants of health in targeted communities. In an upstream approach, PlanoUP!, a collaboration of six organizations, will bring mental health professionals and other social services to children who are at risk for depression, working through the Plano Independent School District.

The grant is one of many being made by Texas Health Resources in North Texas, for a total of amount of $5.2 million in this cycle.

“Plano ISD is thrilled to partner with Texas Health Resources in this grant opportunity, which allows us to provide a much higher level of wraparound support and services to students and families,” said Sara Bonser, superintendent of the Plano Independent School District. “These grant funds will make a meaningful difference to students and allow the district to work with partner organizations within our community.”

In fact, participants said community collaboration will make the program a success.

“The very parameters of this grant proposal, which encouraged close collaboration among independent community entities, was an innovative approach to serving students’ needs,” said Susan Modisette, assistant superintendent for campus services in the Plano school district. “While it seems a simple concept, gathering six organizations to brainstorm solutions around a common issue was not something any of us had previously done to this degree. We were able to view this through the student or family's perspective, and then create a plan for simpler access to a broader range of services.”

In Collin County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1,200 children are living in poverty in Plano’s 75074 ZIP code and are at a higher risk of developing depression. Mental health and social services resources are limited for students on school campuses, but youth spend more than 180 days a year in school.

Texas Health’s Community Impact initiative is a data-driven, outcome-focused approach, said Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan.

“It’s said that a person’s ZIP code has a greater impact on their health than their genetic code,” Berdan said. “That’s why we’re reaching out into the communities we serve and hoping to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people in these areas of North Texas.”

Texas Health Community Impact, through Leadership Councils that oversee five different geographic regions of North Texas, determined the areas of greatest need. Windshield assessments — during which staff and council members visited areas — and focus groups were conducted, pinpointing high-need zip codes.

In the case of PlanoUP!, working with students through schools also offers the opportunity to identify the needs of students’ families.

Yvonne Booker, executive director of Assistance Center of Collin County, a collaborating partner in PlanoUP!, also chairs the Collin County Leadership Council.

“Mental health has always been one of those areas where we allowed confidentiality to limit our ability to provide the support necessary for success,” Booker said. “We have been able to develop a program that will provide that support and never violate any of the families’ confidentiality.”

The PlanoUP! model will initially work in three Plano district schools — Williams High School, Bowman Middle School and Armstrong Middle School — through a collaboration of six organizations, including Plano ISD Education Foundation, Assistance Center of Collin County, LifePath Systems, City House, North Texas Food Bank and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

During the grant period ending in December 2020, PlanoUP! will:

  • Screen and identify students at risk for depression (expecting to identify about 300 students at risk) and work to further identify family needs.
  • Bring mental health professionals/counseling services, social services providers and food assistance directly to students.
  • Educate students through health classes.
  • Provide a community health liaison to connect social services and work alongside school counselors to holistically address the needs of youth experiencing or at risk for depression.
  • Provide a project manager to connect all parts of the project and oversee data collection and track progress.

“Bringing outside agency services into our schools to directly serve students will be transformative,” Modisette said.   

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About Texas Health Resources

Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute-care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.  

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